Following its announcement and our interview with the developers, Last Hero of Nostalgaia allowed us to get to grips with this stripped-down Souls experience. Taking this description in a very unexpected direction, developer Over The Moon Games hasn’t disarmed players or removed the ability to progress. Instead, this experience is a re-pixelated world. Don’t expect ray traced ruins. In Nostalgaia, things go back to the early 90s and heroes are definitely not welcome in these new times.
While the graphics might look a little old school, Last Hero of Nostalgaia kicked off with something distinctly commonplace for systems powerful enough to push polygons. The character creator, however, firmly establishes what we were up against. Playing a dangerously underwhelming looking hero will get you nowhere against a barrage of scrollbars. Immediately poking fun at the first player of the day, the Last Hero of Nostalgaia character designer lets players choose a stick figure uniform or stick figure uniform to represent them in this epic battle to bring back a modern world.
From now on, an opening exposition retracts the same disdain for your quest that the trailer teased, and dropped us into a medieval dungeon where the inhabitants of this world begin by hanging up the body of another hero without distrust of the rafters. Suffice it to say, this mob is out to hack you. Over the next 15 minutes, we got to choose one of four classes, Datadin, Formatter, Resolutionary, Sourcerer, and Randomaster, each bringing their own benefits and a very different payout style to battle. These classes largely follow the same structure that Souls fans will recognize, and we took Datadin’s sword and plank approach so we could balance our ineptitude with some defensive abilities.
Classes aren’t the only thing that stays the same, despite the de-evolved context. Combat is a kind of free-form hack and slash that feels totally right at the end of an Xbox controller. Controls are tight and responsive with plenty of opportunities to dodge and weave while choosing how to handle weapons of varying weights.
Likewise, notes dropped on the floor allow players to read a little deeper into the game. Anyone who has played through to the Elden Ring tutorial will recognize it, along with other very obvious Souls systems, including elements of online paid inventory, upgrades and the ability to pick up and play with different weapons. It even goes so far as to allow players to wield with one or two hands. I’m so bad at these things that I couldn’t even discern if two-handed wielding made a difference, but hopefully.
While things still feel familiar, the difficulty felt reduced for those of us who might not want to increase the difficulty until after the second coffee on a Wednesday morning. however, things quickly became hectic. We eliminated a small collection of different types of monsters. Whether it was heavy axe-wielders, simple townsfolk with a sharp thing, or a crossbow wielder, they all felt fairly simple to take down, one of the toughest feats initiating combat at the right moment. Once halfway through a set of combos, combat feels smoother than actual striking. There’s a deliberate effort to attack and it made us ponder our movement as we stood around the crowd of pixelated inhabitants lying around the suitably bland brown castle walls.
As we traverse the dull colors and blocky stairwells of these 15 minutes, die, recover or abandon progress, then repeat, the narrator intervenes. Reminding us that although this is a Souls game, this is a happy, subversive twist. It’s all there if you’re just looking for a straightforward Souls experience, but Last Hero of Nostalgaia is just covered in quips and rhetoric that knows exactly how silly it is. If there’s one place this dark humor will go down well, it’s surrounded by British sensibilities at WASSD. Learn more about the official steam store page now.